Several athletes had their dignity “compromised” during their time at Saint-Laurent High School. This is the result of a government investigation launched five months ago after three basketball coaches at the facility were charged with sex crimes.
Posted at 12:58pm
Updated at 1:36 p.m
“The investigation made it possible to identify major shortcomings in terms of supervision and control related to the basketball program at the Saint-Laurent school. In light of the information gathered, the dignity of several athletes was compromised during their time at the Saint-Laurent school,” the Ministry of Education said in its investigative report released on Tuesday.
Three Saint-Laurent High School coaches were charged with sex crimes on February 3. The press had also reported that the women’s basketball program had a “super noxious” climate characterized by verbal aggression and intimidation.
Quebec, which launched a regulatory investigation in the following days, believes “a particularly low level of organizational trust was also observed at this school.”
Well-known in the world of school sports, Daniel Lacasse, head of the Saint-Laurent school’s basketball program, is accused of sexual exploitation. The other two coaches, Robert Luu and Charles-Xavier Boislard, face charges of sexual influence, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault. Mr Boislard was also charged with sexual exploitation.
The Ministry of Education took advantage of this outing on Tuesday to make a series of recommendations to the Center de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSSMB), including “improving the control of sports programs” at the Saint Laurent school. Quebec also proposes “hiring an independent external firm to carry out an intervention on climate and rudeness in this facility,” which had already been done but was abandoned by the CSSMB at the end of February.
It is also recommended that the School Service Center conduct a financial audit of sports programs – through an independent auditing firm – and then conduct ‘mandatory’ training on audience intervention in schools to raise awareness of the ‘audience effect’.
Finally, Quebec proposes equipping service centers and sports federations to “change the culture of sports programming” by aiming to prioritize “respect for the dignity of athletes” first. Despite everything, the authorities warn that it will be necessary to “maintain the development of sporting excellence” at the Saint-Laurent school, recognized for the quality of its training program for women basketball players.
The government assures that it is “committed to follow-up on the recommendations and to monitor their application in the network”. We note that the investigation was conducted “in conjunction” with another investigation that was launched more specifically into the “how” of Basketball Quebec’s handling of the situation at Saint Laurent High School. In fact, in recent years, new doubts have been raised about the “wrong and unhealthy” values presented by the sports association.
“We will spare no effort”
For its part, the Center de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys ensures that it will ensure the implementation of the recommendations. “Management of the school’s women’s basketball program affected by the results, we will spare no effort to ensure it meets expectations and reflects the values of respect and dignity that we uphold,” the group said Tuesday in a press release.
The organization also reiterates its trust in the current management team at École Saint-Laurent to implement the relevant changes.
In the meantime, anyone who has been a victim of or witnessed sexual activity at the Saint Laurent School is asked to contact investigators at the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) Sexual Assault Unit at 514-280 -8502 or go to a local police station. To submit information anonymously, the Info-Crime Montreal Center can also be reached at 514-393-1133. A reporting form can also be filled out via the website.